Sessions’ Threat to Legal Marijuana: What it Means for You

What to expect on your first visit to a dispensary

If you’ve tuned in to any news source recently you’ve probably heard about the recent move by Jeff Sessions (US Attorney General) to rescind the Cole Memo. The Cole Memo, which stated that individual states have the right to regulate marijuana as they see fit, was a memorandum released in 2013 under the Obama administration by then US Attorney General James Cole.

To put it simply, what the Cole Memo said was that the federal government would not interfere with states that have legalized marijuana, regardless that it is still a Schedule 1 drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. Current AG Sessions has rescinded that memo, and caused a ripple of outrage and fear among the many Americans who have voted for or partaken in marijuana either recreationally or medically.

So what does this mean for medical and recreational users in Washington state? We’re here to help clear up many of the questions and concerns we’ve heard in the dispensary since the statement was released.

First and foremost, we should tell you that we are operating business as usual. Be assured we will be here for you and continue to carry the products you love, and need, with the same friendly faces you recognize. Mary Jane’s House of Grass is a medically endorsed store. Should recreational use come under attack, we intend to hold our ground as a medical shop.

The Facts

  • Marijuana remains a federally illegal substance under the Federally Controlled Substances Act.
  • Marijuana is legal for use by adults over 21  in Washington state.
  • The memo released by Jeff Sessions IS NOT LAW. It is guidance for state Attorney Generals and prosecutors.
  • Sessions’ new memo does not explicitly set forth how prosecutors should treat medical marijuana.
  • President Trump has neither endorsed, nor spoken against, recreational cannabis.
  • Congress has, since 2014, essentially codified the Cole Memo in each of its continuing spending resolutions, forbidding DOJ from spending tax dollars to prosecute individuals acting in accordance with state law. Those decisions were not rescinded with the Sessions memo.
  • Currently twenty-nine states allow the use of medical marijuana and eight, including the entire West Coast and the District of Columbia, allow recreational use. Which means that more than half of America has legal marijuana laws that were voted for by the American people.
  • Governor Jay Inslee (WA) has come to the defense of the cannabis industry in Washington, and has issued the following statement:

“In Washington state we have put in place a system that adheres to what we pledged to the people of Washington and the federal government; it’s well regulated, keeps criminal elements out, keeps pot out of the hands of kids and tracks it all carefully enough to clamp down on cross-border leakage. We are going to keep doing that and overseeing the well-regulated market that Washington voters approved.

“Make no mistake: As we have told the Department of Justice ever since I-502 was passed in 2012, we will vigorously defend our state’s laws against undue federal infringement.”

Other leaders in legalized states have come forward to oppose the memo. Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon, another legal recreational state, said, “Trump promised to let states set their own marijuana policies. Now he’s breaking that promise so Jeff Sessions can pursue his extremist anti-marijuana crusade. Once again the Trump administration is doubling down on protecting states’ rights only when they believe the state is right.”

Colorado Senator Cory Gardner tweeted his response stating that the issue “must be left up to the states.” He went further to threaten to hold up the confirmation of DOJ nominees.

The feeling and pulse in the industry is certainly charged, but with the support of our state government, and the support of other legalized states, we hope to prevail over those who are opposed to and/or uneducated about marijuana legalization. The end of prohibition was never expected to be easy, but we intend to keep up the fight. We remain hopeful and will continue to carry on.

Cannabis Legalization Did Not Increase Teen Use

drug use, cannabis teens

A concern among many parents is that their child will experiment with drugs. And, in particular, they wonder if their child will ever engage in the readily available cannabis. These concerns were heightened with the passage of Washington Initiative 502, which legalized small amounts of marijuana for adults over 21 years old. But, were their concerns realized?

A Look Back

First, let’s remember back to when we were in those angsty teenage years. If you had any social life, even if it was occasional, you have personally been at a party or were hanging around town or were driving to the movies when a friend, or maybe a friend of a friend, pulled out a joint and asked if you wanted to get high. Maybe you partook. Maybe you didn’t? Maybe you thought of what your parents would think? Maybe you didn’t give a second thought to what they might think because, hey, it’s your life and you can do whatever you want. You’re basically an adult. Or, maybe you were the friend of a friend offering the weed.

These scenarios are playing out all across America, in cannabis legal states and otherwise, right this very moment.

And so what if you decided to partake? Why are parents always so melodramatic and overprotective?

The Science

While we’d like to think our parents just didn’t want us to get caught with an illicit substance that, they thought, would get us tossed in jail or, more likely, stuck with a ridiculously large fine and mandatory AA meeting participation, there is more logic to the concerned parental. (Parents, this is when you should listen most.)

There is science that backs illogical responses and reactions by teenagers. You might think you’re in control and practically an adult when you’re 17. You might even act more mature than your peers. But, are you?

Scientists used to think the brain was basically done forming before high school. But, they were way wrong. Instead, it’s now been confirmed over and over again that the prefrontal cortex still isn’t fully functioning – and this is a major deal.

So, what is the prefrontal cortex? Well, it’s a part of the brain that is right behind your forehead and acts as the CEO of the brain. It is responsible for all sorts of things including memory, planning, organization, and mood. As it forms, teenagers will naturally become better at reasoning, impulse control, and judging the safety of situations. Ultimately, while cannabis is rather safe, the overall situation may not be and a teen’s brain may or may not process this; a nightmare parent scenario.

Additionally, a teen is more susceptible to addiction than an adult. While it’s shown that cannabis itself is not addictive, behaviors are – hence marijuana use disorder. This is four to seven times more likely is people who start consuming cannabis before age 18.

Similarly, studies confirm that a teenager who smokes cannabis will show cognitive defects even days after use. Alternately, adults will return to their baseline much faster. This can easily result in poor test performance after a weekend of cannabis consumption for those whose brains are literally not yet fully formed.

The Data

So, should parents be concerned? Maybe the answer is yes. But, will cannabis legalization increase teen cannabis use? Well, we finally have the answer.

In 2016, more than 230,000 Washington students in grades 8-12, representing all 39 counties, 236 school districts, and over 1,000 schools participated in the Healthy Youth Survey. Here are the results:

These students admitted to marijuana use in the last 30 days:

  • 6% of 8th graders
  • 17% of 10th graders
  • 26% of 12th graders

While that might be alarming to parents, only half of the students consumed cannabis on six or more days in that month. Additionally, these statistics indicate that numbers have remained steady, rather than increasing over the years.

However, there are other areas where education is needed and, at Mary Jane’s House of Grass,  we encourage this open dialogue. Just like alcohol, we agree that cannabis use is a privilege that comes with age and, more importantly, full brain development.

One area that is changing is 8th graders perceived risks associated with cannabis. While cannabis has exponential benefits for adults, as discussed above there are specific scientific reasons teens should not yet engage.

 

While 53% of 8th graders understood the risk, only 48% recognized these effects in 2016. Today, about one in five 8th graders, one in three 10th graders, and 50% of 12th graders perceive no to slight risk associated with regular cannabis use.

However, the questions must also be asked, how was survey question presented. For adults there is little to no risk associated with marijuana use, while the use for teenagers does actually alter their minds, and for multiple days after consumption.

Ultimately, this is what the data is telling us:

  • Cannabis among teenagers remains steady.
  • Education may be needed to ensure teenagers recognize the risks specific to them.

The Outcome

At Mary Jane’s House of Grass, we encourage recreational cannabis experimentation for adults over 21 years old. We have seen the benefits ourselves and for our customers. We know that for those whose brain is fully formed, cannabis can relieve insomnia, pain, depression, nausea and many more conditions. We also know it’s a great de-stressor and sometimes it’s just plain ol’ fun!

However, as a member of the Washington community, we want to encourage safe, legal use and discourage teenage experimentation. With that said, we know that teens will experiment and for this reason, we strongly encourage parents to develop an open dialogue with their children starting from a young age, just as one does with alcohol.

Teens aren’t going to innately know that while cannabis is beneficial for adults, it can have proven negative effects on the younger forming mind. We want the next generation to flourish and for that reason, we discourage cannabis use and encourage dialogue and education.

To learn more about how to engage in an open dialogue with your teenager, visit www.starttalkingnow.org and www.learnaboutmarijuanawa.org.

 

Mary Jane’s House of Grass is located in Vancouver, WA. Stop by some time for a visit.  

Is The Cannabis Industry Getting Ahead of Itself?

sunshine farms cannabis vancouver mother plants

With just a few years of legal recreational cannabis under Washington’s belt, it seems the cannabis industry may be moving faster than the law makers can handle. Cannabis consumers have waited a long time for legalization and our excitement shows. Simple legalization isn’t enough, we want more. We want cannabis friendly cafes, clubs, parks, bars and restaurants. Our favorite plant has so much to offer, but for all our desires, there are laws and regulations blocking us from our ultimate end goal.

A recent article from the LA Times indicates the direction the cannabis industry would like to go – toward expanded legalization and “Amsterdam style” smoking clubs and cafes. It also speaks to the reluctance the new administration is instilling in the industry, and state level government alike. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has eluded to a tightening of the fist, so to speak, on cannabis and decriminalization.

Colorado state lawmakers recently removed language from a bill that would allow cannabis smoking clubs to exist legally. This was a well-supported law. It had bi-partisan support in the house as well as industry support. Currently there are several private cannabis clubs in operation under fringe laws and zoning regulations, operating in that all-too-familiar grey area the industry is trying to move past. However, they’ve been subject to random raids by local law enforcement.

The bottom line is that the cannabis industry is heading in one direction, or trying to, and the government isn’t ready for it to go there. Yet.

As cannabis consumers push the boundaries of legalization more and more pressure will be put on lawmakers to expand cannabis laws and regulations. Unfortunately those changes could be bogged down in red tape for years just waiting for government officials to catch up with what the cannabis industry already knows; weed is enjoyable and can be extremely beneficial to many thousands of people.

“We as an industry have already come so far. I look back at the industry in Washington when legalization was fresh,” says Amy, an owner of Mary Jane’s House of Grass, a dispensary in Vancouver, Washington. “No signs were allowed on recreational storefronts at all. We weren’t even allowed to give out business cards!” It took those on the forefront of the movement to bring these faults to the attention of the lawmakers and work with them to come to an understanding. “After all,” says Amy, “many of them are business owners, too. We had to make them understand how difficult it would be to have business interactions without being able to exchange information freely and easily, and advertise our existence.”

Laws have loosened in Washington State since. They now allow rec shops to install signage on the outside of their building, within size limits, but they still don’t allow cannabis clubs or cafes like the consumers would like. The industry is teetering on a precipice, waiting to see what the new administration does. Will it crack down? Will it turn the other cheek and let states operate as they see fit? Will they legalize across the board? The industry is waiting on baited breath to find out.

In this post-prohibition landscape it’s difficult to navigate the laws, regulations and rules governing our favorite plant. But we have to remain hopeful that the government will catch up with the consumers’ desires. It’s in our hands as the cannabis community, and the voters who installed our governing officers, to make it known to the lawmakers what we want.

“It’s about education,” says Amy. “We are working hard to de-stigmatize this plant and re-educate people about it. There’s a lot of false information surrounding it, and the entire industry and community at large could benefit greatly from its complete legalization.” She’s right. Washington State has made over $401 million in marijuana tax revenue to date. And that number continues to grow as the stigmas subside and consumers find their way to dispensaries and shops to see what the new era of cannabis consumption looks like.

Could the feds really turn away from such a cash crop? That remains to be seen. Cannabis consumers and supporters need to make their wishes known by contacting their representatives, voting at every opportunity, and demonstrating their support with their buying power. Support for your local dispensary is support for legalization.

 

10 Reasons The Stoner Stereotype is Dead

stoner stereotypes, friends gathered smoking cannabis, playing games

Even with recent outspread legalization, many people still believe in the old stoner stereotype that people who use marijuana are unkempt, lazy, stupid, unproductive, or otherwise unsavory. But the recent legalization and opening of recreational stores are proving those stereotypes are just plain wrong.

Today’s recreational user is more like what you might see in your local coffee shop. Maybe because the new retail recreational stores are looking and feeling more like your local coffee shop. From the soccer mom to the college professor, from the young hipster to the white collar business professional, we are seeing a drastic trouncing of the old stoner stereotypes. Here’s why we think the new retail store format is helping to shape the new face of cannabis consumers.

1. Safer access. Gone are the days of the back alley deal with unsavory characters. Consumers over 21 can enter a clean store with professional bud tenders who are knowledgeable and friendly. That’s causing folks who wouldn’t go to the black market before, to come try the new legal retail market instead. And these are folks who definitely don’t fit the typical stoner stereotypes.

2. Safer products. All of our products are lab tested for quality, potency, pesticides, and to make sure there’s not a bunch of excess leaf, twig or other unsavories in your cannabis. Just the good stuff.

3. Higher quality products. Gone are the days of ditch weed. Legalization has brought formerly underground grow operations out into the open as Washington’s new producers. These are people who have been growing for years but are now able to expand their facilities and production, allowing for better growing conditions. These folks aren’t your average stoner growing pot in his mom’s basement. These are true artisans at their craft who are now able to grow in the most desirable conditions. Top quality growing facilities = some pretty amazing cannabis.

4. Control over the experience. If we haven’t experienced it ourselves, we know someone who has. A bad trip. When all you wanted was to feel stimulated and party all night, and what you got was a 6-hour couchlock. What was available in the market before was mostly indica. Why? Because it is smaller (read: easier to hide), and faster to flower (read: faster to market). But indica is the variety that can sometimes leave you couch-locked. So, if you bought from your dealer looking for something to get your motor going, or inspire your creative side, you may have been disappointed with the experience. The realization that you can be highly functional on weed, even more alert,  AND predetermine your outcome, is changing that stoned-on-the-couch stereotype.

5. Wider selection available. Post prohibition marked a rapid increase in the types of available liquor, beyond bathtub gin. The landscape is no different here. Legal growers are out in the open, allowing them better facilities and resources. They are cross breeding and creating new strains with great fervor and the result is an outstanding selection of flower. Want it to smell like berries? No problem. Want to taste an earthiness and enjoy a heightened sense of creativity? You got it. Need sleep? We’ve got you covered.

6. Closet consumers are “coming out” in droves. In a brilliant and touching ad, Green Flower Media calls out these closeted consumers and asks them to share their story. It’s called #ComingOutGreen. And we love it. Mostly because it shows average people. People that you might see in your local coffee shop, at a PTA meeting, at the high school football game, at work. And here’s the kicker, most of the time you would never have guessed they used cannabis.

7. Legality makes it legit. Those law-abiding folks who were reluctant to try it before because it was illegal, are more willing to step into a clean store to purchase it safely and legally. Also, see #6.

8. Tasteful advertising. Gone are the images of scantily clad women in compromising positions surrounded with smoke and holding a bong. Also gone are the slew of slang terms that bring the stereotypical stoner to mind.

You know, terms like pot, weed, dope, grass, green, ganja, herb, reefer, cheebah, chronic, Mary Jane, bud, skunk, doobage, sticky icky, and wacky tobaccy. As well as phrases like getting high, stoned, baked, ripped, faded, sparking up, smoking up, toking up, and, lest we forget, getting blitzed out of our gourds.

The best MJ marketers will not be using any of these terms because of the derogatory associations and because they really no longer apply.

9. Viewing cannabis growth for the art it is. We spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the art and craftsmanship that goes into our favorite beers and wines. Cannabis is no different. Much the way a viticulturist is a master of the grape vine, the people growing cannabis are experts in plant breeding, growth conditions, nutrients, and masters of the plant itself. With the new legalization, these folks can finally spread their wings, and it’s causing an amazing and sharp increase in the quality and variety of the products they are able to bring to market. With retail stores offering “meet your grower” experiences and featuring weed like fine wines, the stigma surrounding it is quickly fading.

10. Consuming responsibly. The new industry is being forthright in its advertising and advising folks to consume responsibly with ad campaigns focused on  anti-over-consumption and starting slowly – because let’s face it, this shit is getting real. Some strains are testing at 40% THC! And the edibles? Whoa. So seriously, start slowly and consume responsibly.

Our recreational clients are getting better quality, safer products and the education to empower them to make the right choice for them and the experience they want. All of those things put the power in the hands of the consumer for the first time. Consumers are finally emboldened to “come out”, and that alone is blowing the stereotype away (and blowing the doors off some closed minds).